The Minute Book
Friday, 18 October 2013

The Needs of Infantry
Topic: Drill and Training

The Needs of Infantry

By Arthur Bryant in the London Times
Republished in Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 57, December 1945

In every war, victory in the final resort depends on the Infantry. "The least spectacular arm of the Army," Field Marshal Montgomery has described it, "yet without them you cannot win a battle. Without them you can do nothing at all. Nothing!" Or, as "Field Service Regulations" puts it, "success in war, which is won by proper cooperation of all arms, must in the end be confirmed by Infantry." The only arm which can penetrate virtually anywhere it has to fight its way to and through the objective. "It is in this that Britain—not normally regarded as a military nation at all—has always excelled.

Though despised at the start of our major wars as military bunglers, and hopelessly handicapped at first by lack of equipment and up-to-date training, we have always emerged victorious in the end, not only at sea, our traditional element, but on land, with our Infantry—guards, riflemen, Highlanders, Light Infantry, fusiliers and county regiments alike—winning for themselves an international name. The archers of Agincourt who so unexpectedly routed the armoured knights of the Middle Ages, the British line which did the same to Napoleon's Grande Armee, the men of Arnhem; the story is always the same. The phrase and the weapons change, but the genius of the British foot soldier remains a constant, or at any rate, recurrent factor. In time of peace, this is forgotten, and nowhere more quickly than in England.

Outside the little world of the professional army a profound ignorance of our military tradition settles down like a fog at the end of every war. The popular conception of the Infantryman in the twenties and thirties was of a dense if honest, chap carrying a rifle, mechanically forming fours, and going through much inexplicable marching and "spit-and-polish." Support was lent to this view by recollections of the last war, when the true function of Infantry was largely lost sight of and when great masses were mown down while mechanically walking behind barrages which a machine-minded age supposed could take the place of human resources and skill. In 1940 the Germans reminded us they had given a preliminary hint in March, 1918—what Infantry, properly trained and supported by other arms coordinated to a single purpose, could do in the way of penetrating even the strongest defensive position. The great men who led the British Army through the fiery ordeals of Norway, Dunkirk and Greece took the lesson to heart and improved on it.

Today, the British Infantryman is almost the most versatile craftsman in the world. His is an astonishing range. He has to be able to handle and service a wide variety of weapons and to use them under conditions of close fighting in which the slightest error or mechanical defect may bring immediate and fatal retribution. His is no single-type job, like a gunner's or signaller's, but a multiple one in which he must constantly adapt himself to unforeseeable conditions. He has to be what the Commando is in the popular eye—a jack-of-all-trades—of infinite resource, ready to look after himself in all situations and to turn his hand to anything at any moment. Digging in with pick and shovel, crawling silently on patrol In the dark, climbing cliff and rock and crossing river, swamp and forest, negotiating minefields and wire, manning trenches, storming positions, repelling tanks or dive-bombers, these are all in a day's—or night's work. He has to be alert and quick in practical common sense, always on his guard against danger, versed in the arts of concealment, observation and deduction, and perfectly coordinated in body, mind and heart. Between him and his officers and comrades there has to be the closest and, at the same time, most flexible cooperations practised and tested teamwork on which perfect confidence can be based. And, because in modem war dispersal is essential, and because once battle is joined there is little time or opportunity for orders, he has to be able to act on his own initiative. It is on the individual Infantryman and the platoon and section that the fate of even the best-planned action depends.

Above all, the Infantryman has to be physically strong and spiritually courageous. His place in action is nearest to the enemy; that of the greatest danger and discomfort. Carrying his own weapons and equipment, fighting sometimes for days without sleep or rations, living in wet clothes and sodden or frozen trenches amid din, stench and horror, he needs the highest standard of fitness and toughness. Without a great heart he is nothing. In defence he has to hold on when every natural feeling prompts him to yield. In attack he has to force his way through the line where the defender has planned to hold him and get under his guard. Only the flame of his spirit can enable him to maintain the momentum of attack. It is not that he is braver than the men of other arms—he would be the last to make such a claim—but that he needs his courage more. The sailor has his ship, the artilleryman his gun, the cavalryman his tank, but the foot soldier has little but his pride and morale. On the day of battle everything turns, not as in a ship on the captain, but on the individual private the lowest common denominator—standing firm, even though there is no one to oversee him. If he does not, the best-laid scheme will fail.

First Problem

The first problem of training, therefore, is to give the Infantryman an invisible armour of personal pride and morale that will stand the test of battle. In our army this has always been the task of the regiment, and it is the essence of a British regiment that it regards itself as second to none.

In continental armies the conception of the elite stormtrooper has often prevailed, with the great mass of Infantry regarded as mere cannon-fodder and as socially inferior to other arms. "Notre armée," an Italian officer remarked before the war to a Highland officer, "Cavalerie bon, Infanterie très bourgeoise." "Dans noire armée," the indignant Highlander replied, "Artillerie bon, Cavalerie bon; Infanterie bon, tout bon; Infanterie avec la jupe creme de la creme!"

Nothing could have expressed more perfectly the attitude of the British Infantryman. He regards himself, however, recruited not as a pawn in a despised bourgeois corps, but as a member of a peculiar, distinguished and exclusive tribe. It is his pride in this which gives him background in battle. There is not a regiment in our army whose history embalmed in its peculiar traditions, idiosyncrasies and customs—is not worthy of a Homer.

Anything that tended to weaken the morale-building qualities of the regiment would be a fatal blow to the fighting strength of the British Army, yet the regiment by itself is not enough. For one thing, it is too small a unit to stand up to the casualty drain of modern global war. Again and again in the present and last war, it has proved impossible to fill the depleted ranks of a front-line battalion with men of the same regiment. Instead, men from other regiments have been hastily drafted in and sent into action before they have had time to acquire new loyalties and pride - sometimes with serious results. Men who have to stand the unpredictable strains of battle are not arithmetical digits who can he moved about to satisfy the demands of logistics. For this reason some who most value the regimental tradition have begun to ask whether a regional grouping of our historic regiments for common training and drafting in time of war might not he an advantage. Local pride and feeling, especially in the ranks, can be a very potent factor in creating morale and the geographical evolution of our regimental system begun in the days of Cardwell—might perhaps now be taken a step farther. Martial loyalties need not conflict, a man may be as proud of his division as of his regiment and the better soldier for his dual pride. But the main new development in Infantry training has been the Battle School. This, born in the dark days after Dunkirk to train men in a new technique of war, has grown into the School of Infantry.

In the famous parent school on the northern moors and in the satellite and divisional schools now established in every command and theatre of war, Infantry Officers and soldiers are trained in the latest developments of their craft and—in General Paget's phrase—"physically and emotionally prepared for the shock of battle." With an equipment and range of experience greater than that which any regimental training unit can command, the School of Infantry, like John Moore's School for Light Infantry at Shorncliffe, has not weakened the regimental tradition but has fed and strengthened it. It has almost certainly come to stay as a permanent institution.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 17 October 2013

CEF Discharges in England
Topic: CEF

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
Discharges in England

Adjutant-General's Branch

Report of the Ministry; Overseas Military Forces of Canada; 1918

Prior to the Armistice the discharge of Canadian Other Ranks in England might be roughly divided into two classes-those who were discharged in order that they might accept commissions or be re-engaged on some branch of the Imperial Service, and those who were discharged to civil life or to engage in work of National Importance. Those of the first class included soldiers whose applications for training with a view to commissioned rank in the Imperial Service had been favourably considered and those who had undergone a course of training at a Cadet School and had been granted a commission in the Imperial Army. It also included those who had been granted commissions under the Admiralty and those who had been appointed Flight Cadets in the Royal Air Force.

The second class consisted of men who might have been asked for by the Imperial Authorities for work of National Importance in such departments as the Ministry of Munitions, the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Shipping. Such men were usually in a low category, and in most cases it was considered that they would be of greater value if they were employed on such work rather than if they continued to serve in a Military capacity. In the same class also came the very infrequent cases of men who were discharged in England on compassionate grounds and also those cases of soldiers boarded for discharge or invaliding to Canada on account of medical unfitness, who had applied for discharge in England.

In respect to the last-named cases it was the settled policy of the Canadian Government that members of the Canadian Forces found no longer fit for War service should be discharged in Canada, and that discharge would not be permitted in England except under very exceptional circumstances and where grave hardship would otherwise be caused to the individual concerned. Applications under this heading were not numerous, but they were very carefully scrutinised as it was not considered advisable that the Canadian Government should allow disabled Canadians to remain in England. In all such cases the application had to be put forward by the man himself, and it should be clearly understood that before the application was allowed it was necessary to prove that very great hardship would be entailed if the applicant were returned to Canada. In addition the man was required to provide written guarantees by a responsible citizen in England to the effect that he would not become a charge upon the public, and it was also necessary that he should furnish a Magistrate's Certificate to the effect that the person acting as guarantor was able to fulfil his obligations.

All discharges in England were carried out through the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot in London, and on being discharged the soldier was required to sign a waiver of any claim against the Canadian Government for free transportation to Canada. He was also required to sign a statement that he understood that by being discharged in England he would not be entitled to receive the three months' bonus of pay under the arrangement which was then in existence. He was given the usual Discharge Character Certificates, and when his documents were completed they were sent for custody to the Officer in Charge of the Canadian Record Office, London, by the Officer Commanding the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot.

Present Policy re Discharges in British Isles. — Since the Armistice, it has been laid down that a soldier may only receive his discharge in the British Isles provided

(a)     He was born in the British Isles.

(b)     He has no dependents in Canada.

(c)     He has dependents or relatives in the British Isles in such circumstances as warrant his retention here for financial or domestic reasons.

(d)     He has a bona-fide offer of employment or has independent means of support irrespective of any pay or gratuity payable by the Government.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 16 October 2013

"Gentlemen — The Queen!"
Topic: Tradition

A Mess Dinner table including regimental silver trophies, flags and menus.

"Gentlemen — The Queen!"

By Lieutenant F.S. Dowe,
Army Headquarters, Ottawa

Canadian Army Journal; Vol. 6, No. 2, June 1952

How often have we heard that toast and how little have we thought of its origin, development and variations. In fact, why do we drink a toast at all, and in doing so what significance has it? Let us then attempt to briefly trace its origin, development and variations through the years. It was the custom in Ancient Greece and Rome to drink libations to the gods and later when mortals qualified for this honour a toast "This to thee" was proposed and the cup handed to the person so honoured. This is probably the origin of our custom of raising the wine glass when drinking a toast. "Health drinking" was a great and favoured pleasure of the Saxons and later when the habit was turned, by monks, into more or less of a religious custom, the wussail bowl became known as the poculum caritatis or loving cup. In some parts of England, and particularly Scotland, it is still known as the "grace cup". This term was given to a bowl of wine passed around by the hostess to induce guests to remain seated until grace was said after the meal.

In the 17th Century when loyalty to the Sovereign was somewhat divided, officers were ordered to drink the King's health as a sign and token of their devotion. To salve their consciences, the Jacobites and their sympathizers used to place their glasses over their finger bowls and so drink "To the King over the water", meaning, of course, the exiled House of Stewart. To avoid this insult, and up until the reign of Edward VII, finger bowls were not permitted in Officers' Messes. It might be interesting to add at this point that George IV, when he was Prince Regent, introduced the Regent's allowance to assist poorer officers in meeting their wine and liquor bills. This custom held good until 1919 when the Pay and Allowance Regulations for the British Army were revised. There are many ways in which the Queen's health is, and may be, drunk. Once they were drunk on bended knee, and, in Scotland, with one foot on the table and one on the chair. In some messes this may still be seen, particularly Highland messes, and the custom is referred to as Highland honours.

The usual procedure, however, is to have the wine passed around the table to the right left and the last glass to be filled is that of the Commanding Officer. This is done so that he will know that every officer has got his glass filled and is ready for the toast. The Commanding Officer then gives the signal and the Mess President rises, saying "Mr. Vice - The Queen". The "Vice", who is generally the most junior officer in the Mess and who is seated at the foot of the table, rises and seconds the toast, saying "Gentlemen - The Queen". All officers then stand, raise their glasses, and respond. The toast is drunk, and after a slight pause, taking the time from the President, the officers sit down. If the Regimental band is in attendance, the officers stand while the first six bars of the National Anthem are played, holding their glasses in the meantime. The toast is then drunk after the band has finished playing. It is at this point that I would like to point out the variations and customs that have crept into the toast. In some Regiments all officers respond to the toast by saying "The Queen, God bless her"; in others only field officers may respond, and in a few the officers remain silent. In some messes the custom is to drink "no heel taps", that is, a bumper glass (brim full) drained at one swallow. The expression "heel tap" came from the reference to one thickness of leather making up the heel of the old boots. Some Regiments do not drink the toast at all and others drink it only on special occasions; some - and indeed most Regiments stand for the toast, some remain seated, only the President and Vice President standing, and others remain seated throughout.

I will, a little later on, give examples of these various deviations from the normal and quote, if possible, the incident that gave rise to the custom. However, before doing so I would like to state that as far as the Canadian Army is concerned any deviation from the normal method of toasting the sovereign is a result of affiliation with a British Army unit that observes some custom. However, many Canadian Regiments observe special days of remembrances and it is possible that some custom has been carried on that as a result of usage has become a tradition of the Regiment. The following are some examples of the deviations by Regiments of the British Army, together with the reason for the custom which has now become tradition. The Royal Navy and Royal Marine Regiments remain seated during the toast while they are afloat. This custom arose from the fact that years ago wardroom ceilings were so low that it became quite a game to avoid hitting the beams and to avoid a loss of dignity inherent with the dodging and darting, officers were permitted to remain seated.

Some line Regiments of the British Army have during their period of existence served as Marine regiments and to commemorate the occasion remain seated during the toast. The Rifle Brigade remain seated because their loyalty has never been questioned. The King's Own Shropshire Light Infantry do not drink the toast and this arose from an incident in Brighton in 1821. During the course of a Regimental dinner, at which King George IV was a guest, he declared that, as a result of the actions of the officers in dispersing some rioters who threatened him while he was attending the theatre in Brighton "Such loyal gentlemen as these need never drink the King's health or stand while the anthem is being played". During the reign of Victoria, the Scots Guards remained seated during the toast, except for the President and Mr. Vice. Those seated drank the toast in silence. In the Royal Tank Regiment the toast is drunk in the normal manner however, the words "God Bless her" are optional to everyone. On guest nights the Gordon Highlanders drink the toast in silence. Unless a member of the Royal family is present the 17/21st Lancers do not drink the toast, and in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry it was the sentiment that "it was wrong and unregimental to parade loyalty; a thing to be taken for granted". Consequently the toast is not drunk. The list is almost endless and it is safe to say that no two regiments do the honours in precisely the same manner. Like life, where variety is the spice, so tradition and custom make mess life unusual and interesting. What a grasp tradition and custom have become, how rigid and persistent.


Letters to the Editor — Toasts and Traditions

Canadian Army Journal; Vol. 6, No. 3, July 1952

Editor, Canadian Army Journal.

The article "Gentlemen - the Queen!" in the May 1952 edition of the Journal contains some points which invite comment. The author refers more than once to the "usual procedure" but one is left in some doubt as to just what this procedure is. He states "the wine is passed around the table to the right and the last glass to be filled is that of the Commanding Officer." Many variations in the procedure for the loyal toast do exist among the regiments of the British Common wealth, but I venture to believe that in no mess is the wine passed "around the table to the right".

Further, it is a rare occasion when the Commanding Officer is the last officer to fill his glass. The most common procedure is for the Commanding Officer to be seated in the centre of the table on the side nearest the main entrance to the dining room, with the President at the right and the Vice at the left end, respectively. Actually, the President can be seated anywhere, i.e. from where he can best supervise the table and the service. The wine decanters are placed in front of both the President and the Vice and on a signal from the former both taste it to "assure those present that it is fit to drink". The wine is then passed "to the left" and the Commanding Officer fills his glass in turn. In large messes where two or more tables may be in use, some local variations of this procedure undoubtedly will exist, but the general form remains the same. For example, the Commanding Officer rather than the President may propose the toast, and at extra long tables decanters may have to start being passed from several points, but these are just more of those deviations mentioned in the article.

The author also infers that Canadian regiments or units allied to British take on the traditions of the latter. This is a misconception prevalent among Canadians and devoutly to be discouraged. No Canadian regiment would consider adopting the battle honours of its allied British regiment, yet regimental traditions, customs or quiffs are usually honours won long ago on the field of battle or distinctions awarded by a reigning sovereign or other high personage. The person who granted the tradition in the first instance is now hardly in a position to permit its delegation to another regiment. To request authority to adopt one or more of these "honours" may prove embarrassing to the British regiment and to adopt without sanction would be Regimental Marched even more embarrassing to the Canadian regiment. In essence, therefore, Canadian regiments should earn their own traditions.

Lieut.-Col. R.H. Webb, Army Headquarters.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Modesty
Topic: Humour

Modesty

From "The Orderly Sergeant," Five Nines and Whiz Bangs, 1937

Not the least attractive of the virtues one learns in the Army is the virtue of modesty. Confronted with a situation that demands from him some admission of his own worth, the soldier is invariably overwhelmed with an embarrassing shyness. You've met fellahs like—What's that?

Oh, nonsense, of course you have.

I'm thinking of that old troop of whom my friend Chester Payne tells.

Early in the Grand Embroglio, Sir Sam Hughes was making one of his rare inspections of an active service battalion. Give Sam credit, he was never known to turn any troops out for inspection oftener than twice a day.

On the right of the line stood a tall, broad-shouldered, well set up musketeer. His moustache was waxed, his eyes bored right to the front, head back, chin drawn in, his torso straight as a ramrod. Sam's eye lit on him at once.

"That," said Sam, "is the kind of chap I like to see. I can pick 'em out anywhere. An old soldier, eh? He is an old soldier, isn't he?" Sam turned to Ches.

"Yes, Sir."

"You bet he is," Sam said. With an approving smile he walked up to the troop.

"Well, my man, I like your looks," he said frankly. "What regiment did you serve in?"

"Ain't served in no regiment, Sir."

"What!" Sir Sam's eyebrows took a stream-line.

"Ah, you were in the artillery, though?"

"No, Sir."

Sam scowled. It wasn't often he made mistakes like this. He looked the chap up and down. He was buffaloed. And it didn't please him a bit that he'd been caught out making a mistake. In disgust he turned away. "I thought you told me that fellow'd been a soldier," he snorted to Ches witheringly. "Let that be a lesson to you. Never go by appearances."

He said other things, too; but the foregoing is sufficient to indicate his ministerial disapproval.

Ches was a bit chagrined. When the parade was over and Sam had crashed noisily out of the picture, he saw the object of Sam's interest approaching. Stepping smartly up, the laddie saluted.

"Did you spring that guff on Sam about me bein' an old soldier, Sir?"

"I did. I told him. What's the big idea of makin' a ninny out of me like that?"

"Well, you see, Sir—" The troop hesitated, with a soft, embarrassing blush suffusing his features.

"Whatja mean by denying it?" demanded Ches warmly. "Weren't you in the 3rd Provisional of The Royal Canadian Regiment in Halifax?"

"Sure I was," murmured the troop coyly. "An' they're still lookin' for me."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 October 2013 12:14 AM EDT
Monday, 14 October 2013

The Missing Factor
Topic: Commentary

The Missing Factor

Whenever I took instruction in tactics, whether it be as a Corporal, as an Officer Cadet, or as a Captain, we were taught to assess a variety of factors in developing our tactical plans. The factors lead us to developing a variety of options, the Courses of Action; comparison of which produced the best course of action on which to develop a plan.

Imagine, if you will, advancing across varied terrain in training. The enemy is small, just strong enough to require the desired training to be assessed. They know what direction we are coming from (and when to expect us), and they arrange themselves in accordance with the instructor's direction to present a prepared enemy watching for our approach.

When the enemy sees us and engages, bringing us under effective fire, what do we do? We execute the battle drill and follow the checklist. We take cover, and return fire to win the firefight. And the commander (whether student on course or, afterwards, a section, platoon or company commander) starts to formulate a plan of attack.

Invariably, the idea of assaulting directly towards an identified enemy is considered "the frontal attack." In a deep societal understanding, the "frontal attack" is perceived as a desperate option, one highly reminiscent of the worse days of the First World War. And of those worst days, none have been painted more thoroughly in the Western psyche as the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1916, when many units of Kitchener's New Army were decimated by German machine guns as they attempted to assault across No Man's Land. "Decimated," by definition, fails to describe the losses of many unit, but it has become so in a more modern comprehension of the word. (What we are seldom told, however, is that not all units suffered to the same degree, but that knowledge leads to further examination of local conditions and actions, undermining the deep sense of tragedy the event holds in our minds.) But the Great War has thoroughly branded the frontal assault as the greatest crime of generals and battlefield commanders.

The frontal assault is always imagined as being not only directly at the enemy position, but also through the very worst approach (i.e., his best prepared defence works and most effective killing zones---no man's land). But this misses one critical point.

The perceived concept of the frontal assault assumes something which should never be left unexamined. A factor that potentially changes everything. A factor that can make the frontal assault not only a good course of action, but possibly the best course of action.

Because we train to fight small enemy forces, which are ideally located to ensure we meet them on our line of approach and that they are ready to force our hand to assault their position, we never really surprise the enemy. We arrive on a known route at an expected time and face off an enemy designed to halt our advance. All the training in developing the higher plan with intent to dislocate or otherwise disrupt the enemy before the fight is engaged is eliminated by the exercise planner's need to ensure contact happens in accordance with the Master Event List. (Apparently, you can't assess a commander as effective if he finds a way to avoid engaging some of the enemy and still makes it to his final objective.)

But what's the missing factor, you ask.

The missing factor is the orientation of the enemy position.

When we plan operations, we consider the enemy. We determine his most likely defensive positions, his killing zones, his obstacle belts. And then we try to develop a plan to avoid those killing zones and obstacles as best as possible, while still being able to neutralize or destroy his defensive positions. But on training exercises that level of preparatory work is denied us, and the exercise planner ensures we face the enemy across the ground he is best prepared to meet us on. We teach ourselves that we should try to place ourselves in a position to face the enemy from a direction he does not expect. But in training we more often invalidate that principle.

The repetitiveness with which we place "friendly forces" and "the enemy" facing off across the latter's killing ground reinforces and perpetuates the deep loathing we have for the frontal assault.

But what happens if the commander has done his own planning and chosen the line of approach. Then he may be facing the enemy not across his killing ground, but from a flank or the rear, i.e., on one of his less well prepared approaches. And this can make the frontal assault from the line of march the best course of action.

When we teach the development of tactical plans, we think about the orientation of the enemy. But when we practice it, we habitually let resource limitations (troops for enemy forces, time, space) and exercise requirements lead to the elimination of that factor. Instruction teaches process, but practice reinforces the "acceptable" options, especially for younger NCOs and officers who ares till trying to absorb the lessons and details of each situation. We need to stop modeling tactical exercises that consistently situate the estimate in concurrence with societal preconceptions. Expanding training options to see when, and how, the frontal assault can be the best course of action can ensure we actually recognize it, and consider it a viable option, when it is presented to us.

elipsis graphic

The Canadian Infantry Section Attack

The Canadian infantry section attack, usually the first introduction to small unit tactics for soldiers and officers in the Canadian Army, was once (before 1990) taught with options of direct assaults (i.e., frontals) and flanking attacks, moving either a supporting fire or an assaulting group. With the adoption of the C7/C9 family of small arms in the late 1980s, the idea that an infantry section would never attack alone, and therefore would only operate as part of a larger assault force, took hold. This idea led to the belief that a section commander only needed to know how to direct his section in a forward assault, and the training of flanking options for the section attack ceased. After a decade of experience in Afghanistan, and the renewed understanding that many factors can lead to independent actions of the infantry section, the flanking section attack has returned to the latest revision of the Army's manual for Section and Platoon tactics.

From The Regimental Rogue:

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Cavalry will be Victorious
Topic: Drill and Training

The Cavalry will be Victorious

The following anecdote, from the biography of Major-General F.F. Worthington, father of the Canadian Armoured Corps, illuminates the enduring conflict between templated training expectations and ingenuity.

The army was back in the horse era [following WWI] and while militarily regressive, it was good fun and exercise for all concerned. There were not enough army horses to mount the militia, so a varied collection of horseflesh was hired for the duration of the camp, mostly untrained range ponies. As a grand finale to training, a full-scale sham battle took place at the end of the summer. For this, the militia converged from all points, but mainly from the cities, the majority being business men and office workers. The general officer commanding Military District No. 10 was a hard-bitten cavalrymen of the old school and it was mandatory that victory go to the cavalry after a furious charge annihilating the infantry.

This foregone conclusion was a sore point with the veteran machine-gunners, Worthy and Blackie in particular, who knew it to be preposterously unrealistic, so that summer of 1923 steps were taken to destroy the fallacy for all time – if not by fair means, then by foul.

The day arrived, and at dawn the infantry marched off to do battle, each man with a newspaper sheet inside his tunic. Throughout the long hours they advanced, manoeuvred, deployed, as the situations warranted. By late afternoon, hot and dusty, all were ready to call it a day. The intrepid horsemen formed up for the coup de grace – the devastating charge that would proclaim them the superior force – and with a flourish of trumpets, galloped down upon the hapless foot soldiers. The infantry held their ground until the crucial moment, then on command the newspapers blossomed forth, wildly waving in front of the oncoming horses.

It was stupendous. Chargers stampeded in all directions, horsemen toppled like ninepins, and by a miracle the only casualties were bumps and bruises. An overwhelming victory for the infantry – but when the account reached M.D. 10 headquarters, the top blew off.

The Gopher Hole Gazette – a camp news-sheet starting and ending with that summer, carried an hilarious account in what was to be, in consequence, its final issue. Standing orders were then issued that hereafter, notwithstanding, the cavalry would be victorious. That couldn't happen to-day. The Canadian Army has acquired a sense of humour along with a sense of proportion. – Larry Worthington, 'Worthy'; A Biography of Major-General F.F. Worthington, C.B., M.C., M.M., 1961

Panic on Peace Manoeuvres

In a similar vein, Richard Meinertzhagen also defeated his "enemy" through the effective application of surprise in training.

In early September [1924] the garrison of Cologne was engaged in brigade training. I was given command of the skeleton enemy comprising four aeroplanes, six tanks, a squadron of cavalry and two skeleton battalions. I had to take up a position on a low ridge. The opposing force comprised an infantry brigade, a field artillery battery and a squadron of cavalry. I hid my cavalry in a thick wood quite close to and on the flank of my position. I was in wireless communication with my aeroplanes, which were some eight miles distant, and my tanks I placed in front of my position but beautifully disguised as haystacks. When the brigade attacked and were about to launch an assault, my cavalry burst out of the wood and took the enemy in the flank, my tanks threw off their haystacks and advanced on the attacking enemy, and my aeroplanes, advised by signal, came up from the rear of the attacking enemy, very low down, and bombarded the enemy's guns, infantry and cavalry with hundreds of tennis-balls which I had collected in Cologne. The result was disastrous, and I witnessed what I had never seen before – panic on peace manoeuvres. The infantry were terrorised and ran, fixing their bayonets. Two companies of the K.O.Y.L.I. and one company of the 60th bolted and spread panic among the rest. The gunner horses took fright and broke loose and the gunners took refuge under their guns. I never saw such pandemonium.

At the subsequent conference the gunner officers and colonels commanding battalions severely criticised my unorthodox methods, but Bethel, in charge of the exercise, congratulated me on such realistic methods during peace manoeuvres. Everyone was very angry with me, but I could not help laughing at troops panicking when tennis-balls are dropped on them from aeroplanes. – Colonel R. Meinertzhagen, CBE, DSO, Army Diary, 1899-1926, 1960

elipsis graphic

If surprise is a principle of war, then why do senior officers always seem to get upset when someone correctly applies it in the middle a training exercise? Apparently, invalidating the Master Events List by out-thinking the "enemy" and the exercise planner is a cardinal sin.

The Frontenac Times


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 12 October 2013

Pay; Canadian Contingents in South Africa
Topic: Pay; the Queen's shilling

Pay; Canadian Contingents in South Africa

Extract from a Report of the Committee of the Honourable the Privy Council, approved by His Excellency on the 18th day of March, 1900.

On a Memorandum dated 12th March, 1900, from the Minister of Militia and Defence, recommending that the pay of Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the Canadian Contingents of Special Service in South Africa be as follows:—

1.     Up to and inclusive of the date of disembarkation in South Africa:—

(a.)     1st Contingent, comprising the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, and reinforcements:—

Rank.Pay.
($ cts.)
Allowances.
($ cts.)
Total.
($ cts.)
Lieut.-Colonel4.000.754.75
Major3.500.754.25
 2.82 2.82
 2.00 2.00
Adjutant, according to rank 0.50 
 2.80 2.82
Medical Officer3.00 3.00
Sergeant Major1.25 1.25
Sergeant1.00 1.00
Sergeants1.00 1.00
Sergeants1.00 1.00
 0.80 0.80
 0.75 0.75
Privates0.50 0.50
Buglers0.50 0.50

Being the rates of pay provided for the permanent corps of Canada, and allowances with the exception that the pay of privates is at the rate of 50 cents per diem, the rate of pay of a private in the several corps of the Active Militia, instead of 40 cents, the rate provided for the permanent corps.

And in addition to the foregoing, in the case of officers in permanent employment, such amounts as wil make their pay equal to that of the pay and allowances of their appointment, and, in the case of officers of the permanent corps, amounts equal to such increments of pay as have accrued to them under the regulations governing pay of the permanent corps (Part III, Sec. 3, Para. 15, Regulations and Orders for the Militia, 1898).

(b.)     The 2nd Contingent, comprising the Canadian Mounted Rifles and the Brigade Division of the Royal Canadian Artillery:—

Officers

N.W. Mounted PoliceSpecial Service Force 
CommissionerLieut.-Colonel7.12
CommissionerMajor4.88
 Captain3.84
 Lieutenant2.75
SurgeonMedical Officer3.84
Veterinary Surgeon Officer.75

N.C. Officers and Men

N.W. Mounted Police Service Force 
Sergts (higher rate)Regimnetal Sergt. Maj.$2.00
Other Staff Sergts (higher rate)Battery or Squadron Sergeant Major1.50
Battery or Squadron Quarternaster Sergeant
Orderly Room Sergeant
Hospital Sergeant
Pay Sergeant
Other Non-Commissioned Officers, SergeantsOrderly Room Clerk1.00
Sergeants
Other Non-Commissioned Officers, CorporalsCorporals.85
 Bombadiers0.80
PrivatePrivate0.75
 Farrier Quartermaster Sergeant1.75
 Sergeant1.50
Other ArtificersCorporal1.25
Bombadier
Private
 Trumpeter1.00

Being the rates of pay provided for the North-west Mounted Police, with the exception that the pay of privates is at the maximum rate of pay for privates in that force, viz.: 75 cents per diem instead of at the rate of from 50 to 75 cents per diem, according to service.

2.     From the date of debarkation in South Africa:—

(a.)     1st Contingent and reinforcements:—

By Her Majesty's Government, as agreed upon:

The rates of pay provided for infantry in the Royal Warrant for pay;

By the Government of Canada:

Such additional amounts as will be required to make the total pay of each Officer, N. C. Officer and man equal to that specific in paragraph 1 (a) above.

(b.)     2nd Contingent:—

By Her Majesty's Government, as agreed upon:

The rates of pay provided, in the case of Mounted Rifles, for Cavalry; and in the case of the Field Artillery, for Field Artillery, in the Royal Warrant for pay.

By the Government of Canada:

Such additional amounts as will be required to make the total pay of each Officer, N. C. Officer and man equal to that specific in paragraph 1 (b) above.

The Minister further recommends that all officers attached to the army for instructional or other purposes at the request and with the approval of the Government of Canada, including chaplains with the relative rank of captain, and nurses with the relative rank of lieutenant, be paid the rates of pay provided for that rank in the permanent corps with which they are attached, except in the case of officers belonging to the permanent corps or in permanent employment, which shall be paid, in addition, such allowances and increments as they may be entitled to under the Regulations and orders for the Militia, 1898, and that such part of their pay as is not paid by Her Majesty's Government, be paid by the Government of Canada.

The Minister further recommends that separation allowance as hereunder be paid:—

In the case of Officers: One half the amount of such Officer's pay to the wife.

In the case of N. C. Officers and men:—

RankWifeSon under 14 Years under 14 Years.
Sergeant.500.050.05
Corporal0.35.050.05
Private0.25.05.05

such allowances to be paid from and inclusive of the date of embarkation.

The Committee submit the same for Your Excellency's approval.

John G. McGee
Clerk of the Privy Council


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 11 October 2013

Sergeant Spall's Memorial Cross
Topic: Medals

Sergeant Spall's Memorial Cross

The modern cap badge design for the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The modern cap badge design for the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Sergeant Robert Spall, VC.

Sergeant Robert Spall, VC.

The First World War cap badge of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The First World War cap badge of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Recently, the Memorial Cross awarded to the mother of a Canadian Victoria Cross recipient, 475212 Sgt Robert Spall of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, appeared on ebay.ca. With a sudden burst of interest, links to the auction quickly appeared in related collecting and history forums, and interest in the Cross was evident by a number of early bids pushing the selling price over $3000 within hours of the sale listing.

While notice of the sale travelled through the internet, and to Sgt Spall's regiment, it was not attended by the sometimes seen round of ill-informed news articles decrying the fact that it was for sale at all, or individuals offering to broker the purchase for interested buyers. But an initiative did grow out of the regimental interest in this Cross.

An iniative on the crowd-funding site gofundme.com was launched with the intent to purchase the cross for donation to the PPCLI regimental museum. $9,401 was raised by 116 people in 6 days.

The auction for Sgt Spall's Memorial Cross ended just before midnight on 9 Oct 2013, the final bid was $8000 Cdn.

Well done to all those who contributed and congratilations to those who engineered this successful plan to place Sgt Spall's Memorial Cross beside his medals.

475212 Sgt Robert Spall, VC

Sgt. Spall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 13 Aug.1918, near Parvilliers, France.

His Citation reads:

"For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice when, during an enemy counter-attack, his platoon was isolated. Thereupon Sgt. Spall took a Lewis gun and, standing on the parapet, fired upon the advancing enemy, inflicting very severe casualties. He then came down the trench directing the men into a sap seventy-five yards from the enemy. Picking up another Lewis gun, this gallant N.C.O. again climbed the parapet, and by his fire held up the enemy. It was while holding up the enemy at this point that he was killed. Sgt. Spall deliberately gave his life in order to extricate his platoon from a most difficult situation, and it was owing to his bravery that the platoon was saved." — The London Gazette, 26 October 1918

Spall's Attestation Paper and service record, found on the Library and Archives Canada database for Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force:

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Sgt Robert Spall, VC, who died on August 13, 1918

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 11 October 2013 12:24 AM EDT
Thursday, 10 October 2013

CEF Enlistments in England
Topic: CEF

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
Enlistments in England

Adjutant-General's Branch

Report of the Ministry; Overseas Military Forces of Canada; 1918

Applications for enlistment into the Canadian Forces in England were constantly being received. Some of these were from persons who alleged themselves to be Canadians, and who had been called up for Service by Imperial Authorities and who desired to serve with the Canadians rather than with the Imperial Forces; others were from Canadians, who, for various reasons, happened to be resident in England and who desired to join the Canadian Forces there. Requests were also received from Canadian who had, voluntarily or otherwise,

The last class of applicant was advised that he must apply through his Imperial Unit for transfer to the Canadian Forces, and where the Imperial Authorities saw fit to forward his request for such transfer, together with the statement that there was no objection to his discharge from his Imperial engagement and his re-enlistment in the Canadian Forces, his application was approved, provided that the man concerned satisfactorily passed a medical examination by the Canadian Authorities and was found in Category A as fit for General Service. All individual applying for enlistment in England were advised that their applications could not be considered unless they furnished a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship issued by the High Commissioner for Canada in London. This certificate was only issued by the High Commissioner after he has satisfied himself that the man's claim as to Canadian citizenship was well founded. In addition, all applicants had to submit to examination by the Canadian medical Authorities and be found fit for General Service.

The applicant having fulfilled these conditions was sent to a territorially affiliated Reserve Unit. There he was again medically examined, and if considered fit, was enlisted. His completed documents were returned to the Adjutant-General's Branch and a record kept of his enlistment. The documents were sent to the Canadian Record Office, London, and a copy of the Attestation Paper sent to the Department of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, for custody. The man's Certificate of Canadian Citizenship was kept on file in the Adjutant-General's Branch.

The number of enlistments completed in England from the beginning of the War to December, 1918, was 1,733, representing approximately 10 per cent. of the applications actually received, the balance of applications having been rejected either as a result of medical examination or through inability to produce the requisite Certificate of Citizenship.

In some cases applicants were unwilling to persist in their applications after they had filed them.

Except in special circumstances applications for enlistment in England were only accepted for service in the Infantry.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A Toast to the Regiment
Topic: Tradition

Brig Murphy

Click to see full image at the Library and Archives Canada online exhibit Faces of War.

Brigadier William Cameron Murphy, CBE, DSO, ED, commanded the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade in Italy and Northwest Europe from 27 Feb 1944 to 25 Jun 1945.

What is Tank Country?, by William Murphy, as published in Canadian Military History, Vol. 7, No. 4. Autumn 1998.

A Toast to the Regiment

Canadian Army Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, June 1952

The following is the text of a Toast to the Regiment proposed by Brigadier William Murphy, CBE, DSO, ED, at the annual Officers' Mess dinner of the British Columbia Regiment (DCO) (13th Armoured Regiment) held in Vancouver earlier this year. Brigadier Murphy, who is president of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association, is the author of the article entitled "What Is Tank Country?" published in the April 1951 issue of the Journal. - Editor.

Mr. President, Your Honour and Gentlemen:

It may seem strange to some of the younger Officers here tonight that I should be called upon to propose the Toast to the Regiment. After all this is my Regiment. I was commissioned with it and served with it, from Lieutenant to Major, for a period of some fourteen years. The fortunes of war did not permit me to fight with it - nevertheless it is my military home. It might well be asked then, by those new to military tradition, how it is that I propose a toast to my own Regiment. Again, some of the younger Officers may wonder, when the toast is proposed, if they too should rise and drink. Surely, they might say, this cannot be the correct procedure. It is like toasting oneself. In the answer to these queries lies the true meaning of the Regiment. It is not only right and proper that I should propose this Toast, however poorly I may do so, but it is also right and proper that every Officer in this room, whether he is now serving with the Regiment or whether he has ever served with the Regiment, should do it honour by rising and drinking to its name. The Regiment is not the officers and men who serve it. The Regiment is not those officers and men who originally founded it or who fought in its name in the Boer War and the two Great Wars or who served it in the intervening years of peace. The Regiment is not those officers and men who will proudly carry its name in the years to come. The Regiment is above and beyond those who serve it. It would take a far more eloquent speaker than myself to adequately define for you that intangible something to which we do honour at this time. The Regiment is tradition - the Regiment is service - the Regiment is love of country - the Regiment is unswerving loyalty to our Queen and all that She stands for - the Regiment, above all else, is sacrifice. Those who served it yesterday, those who serve it today, and those who will serve it tomorrow, have added, and will add, glory to its name. They are honoured in that opportunity. Year by year the faces in our ranks change. Year by year young men come forward to take the places of older men and of hose who fall in battle. But the Regiment goes on. When all here tonight are but a memory, the Regiment will still stand - famous for past deeds, ever ready for new duties.

Gentlemen, I give you the Regiment.


Brigadier Murphy's Obituary, as published in The UBC Alumni Chronicle, Vol 15, No. 4, Winter, 1961

William Cameron Murphy, D.S.O., E.D., Q.C., BA, LLD45, died October 20, 1961 in Vancouver at the age of 56. While at U.B.C., he was associate editor of the Ulyssey, represented the university in intercollegiate debating and played on the rugby team. He was called to the B.C. bar in 1929. Brig. Murphy was an army man from the time he was 15 years of age when he joined the 31st Battery, Field Artillery, in Vancouver. He had reached the rank of major in the militia when he reverted to the rank of captain to go overseas with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1942 and took command of the B.C. Dragoons Regiment in the United Kingdom. He rose to the rank of brigadier and in 1944 was placed in command of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade.

Brig. Murphy was appointed to the Vancouver Police Commission in 1955 and served until March, 1958. He was a member of the Alumni Association (president in 1931-32), the B.C. and Canadian Bar Association and a trustee of the Poppy and Last Post funds.

Besides being a partner in Campney, Owens and Murphy and president of Canadian Western Pipe Mills Ltd., he was a director of many companies.

Brig. Murphy was the son of the late Mr. Justice Denis Murphy, BA, PhD (Ottawa Coll.), LL3’36, who served on U.B.C.’s Board of Governors during the years 1917-1935, and 1938-1946. Three of Brig. Murphy’s brothers and sisters also graduated from U.B.C.; Mrs. John Creighton (nee Sally Murphy, BA‘23), the late Denis W. Murphy, BA‘29, and the late Paul D. Murphy, BA‘29. Another sister, Mrs. Margaret MacFadyen, is living in Watchung, New Jersey. He leaves his wife, Mary, and two daughters, Mrs. Waiter Green, and Patty, all of Vancouver.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 8 October 2013

3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry
Topic: The RCR

General Orders — 1900

Headquarters
Ottawa, 1st April, 1900

General Order 28
Provisional Battalion to Garrison Halifax, N.S.

One piece gilt officer's badge.
One piece brass soldier's badge.

It is believed that these one-piece versions of the 1894 pattern cap badge of The Royal Canadian Regiment were worn by the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion.

1.     The formation of a provisional Battalion from the Active Militia (the Permanent Corps, Cavalry and Field Artillery, and the Active Militia of the City of Halifax, which is already allotted to the defence of Halifax in the Imperial Defence Scheme excepted), is authorized to replace temporarily, the 1st Battalion Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), at Halifax, N.S.

2.     This Battalion will be designated the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry.

3.     The establishment of this Battalion is as follows:—

  • 1 – Lieutenant Colonel
  • 2 – Majors
  • 1 – Adjutant
  • 8 – Captains
  • 8 – Lieutenants
  • 8 – 2nd Lieutenants
  • 1 – Quartermaster
    • 29 – Total Officers
  • 1 – Regimental Sergeant-Major
  • 1 – Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant
  • 5 – Staff Sergeants
  • 8 – Colour Sergeants
  • 32 – Sergeants
    • 47 – Total Sergeants of Regimental Staff and Sergeants
  • 40 – Corporals
  • 16 – Drummers and Buglers
  • 872 – Privates
    • 928 – Total Rank and File
      • 1004 – Total all Ranks
  • 4 – Officers' Horses

4.     Officers, non-commissioned officers and men serving in this Corps will be paid the rates of pay and allowances provided for the Active Militia, which they will draw, in the case of officers, from the date upon which they report for duty, and in the case of non-commissioned officers and men, from the date of enlistment.

elipsis graphic

General Order 7, of 1 January, 1901

Establishment of 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry.

General Order 28, or April 1st 1900, is amended as follows:—

  • For 32 Sergeants, read 33.
  • For 40 Corporals, read 41.

The 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, was disbanded in late 1902, with the return of a British battalion to the Halifax garrison. Only a few short years later, in 1905, the last British Army garrisons in Canada would be withdrawn. At that time, The RCR would expand to a ten-company organization (from four) and Regimental headquarters and six new companies would occupy barracks in Halifax as the garrison battalion.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 7 October 2013

Saluting the out-of-uniform Officer
Topic: Humour

Saluting the out-of-uniform Officer

From Humour in the Army, by John Aye (1932)

The order that a soldier should salute an officers whom he knows to be such, whether in uniform or plain clothes, is one that gives a good deal of trouble to the ordinary soldier. Unfortunately, unless he has a good memory for faces, he is very liable to omit to salute Captain Ironbrace, who has come out in a dirty old flannel suit, while on the other hand he may give a seven-horse-power salute to a smartly dressed individual who turns out to be the colonel's batman on leave or the assistant in the regimental barber's shop. For those who suffer from this difficulty in recognising people there are a few well-established rules for their guidance:—

(1)     If you see a monocle in barracks it usually has an officer behind it. Salute.

(2)     If the individual approaching you has an " I can do no wrong " air, that's either a junior officer or a sergeant-major. In both cases be on the right side and salute.

(3)     If you see anything habited in freak clothes, that's usually an officer. Salute.

(4)     If, in a gentlemen's outfitter's shop, you see a very, young gentleman buying crimson braces, magenta socks, and pink shirts, that's probably a young officer. Salute.

(5)     If you meet an elderly gentleman who prefaces everything with " Eh what? " that's probably a senior officer. Salute.

(6)     If you discover an individual ramming his unpaid bills into the fire, that's sure to be an officer. Salute.

(7)     If you meet a militant-looking young gentleman who speaks of "d--d civilians," that's probably a newly commissioned Territorial officer. Salute twice.

The Frontenac Times


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 6 October 2013

1943 Message from the Commandant
Topic: Officers

In the January 1943 edition of the newsletter "BMA Blitz" published by the candidates and staff of the Officers' Training Centre at Brockville, Ontario, the commandant provided this guidance in his message. Known as the "Brockville Military Academy," the OTC was commanded by Colonel Milton Fowler Gregg, V.C., M.C.

1943 Message from the Commandant

By Col. M.F. Gregg, Commandant, Officers' Training Centre

1.     This year anything may happen. I will not wish you "A Happy and prosperous New Year" because it can be neither in the old meanings of the words.

2.     Unless you have a foolproof formula — which I haven't — it isn't much use to speculate about what will happen in theatres of operations this year.

3.     There are, however, some things, to keep us from being easy optimists can do with serious thought by all of us at B.M.A.:—

(a)     The Hun and the Jap are still at the top of their form.

(b)     Much as we hate to admit it, up to now their form has indicated pretty skillful training.

(c)     The Canadian Army, as such, has not yet entered sustained battle.

(d)     We, of the Canadian Army, have had over three years of training — attempting to acquire skill but, in the main, without the enemy present to prove that it will work.

(e)     I believe it will work, and I think you do too. But, for that reason, we can't afford to be smug and self-satisfied that all the answers have been found.

(f)     When the Canadian Army goes into sustained action, the training picture will change within a month.

(g)     Then the demands will be such that there won't be time for much training speculation in quiet places like Brockville.

(h)     The battle itself will provide the ruthless test of what will work and what won't.

(i)     Under fire, the ideas and methods that won't fit that battle picture will have to be improvised into something that will.

(j)     It may sound prety desperate, but it has been done often before and turned the tide by a hair.

(k)     Often the good old principle of war—"Surprise"—will be forced upon you because the Hun will know your standard plays in advance and you'll have to "improvise" to survive.

4.     If you agree, then you will know why we at "B.M.A." harp upon the importance of the maximum use of these three months for:—

(a)     Solid foundation in orthodox skill, based on such experience as now available. You must ave that for you will have plenty of times to use it. Without it, you'll be in a muddle which will sap confidence and kill initiative. With it, your show will kick off in tidy fashion and leave you free to be on alert for an opportunity to vary or improve upon the standard play. It's exactly the same as in football or hockey.

(b)     Practice in improvisation after the groundwork is laid. When you played your practice games at school, you tried out some of your own canny stunts—some of them proved foolish and you discarded them. But the effect was, that when the league games came, you had confidence in yourself, to improvise at the vital moment. You've got to have some confidence in your ability to "ad lib" in the battle or you won't have the nerve to try it when it is essential. That's why this is a good place to start to create that confidence.

5.     So I ask instructors and candidates to make the most effective use of all th time granted in 1943 (whether at Brockville or beyond) to:

(a)     make sure your skill with men, weapons and equipment is sound.

(b)     imagine how the items of your training can best be fitted into the battle and inquisitively let that be the urge for your study and questioning.

(c)     let your enthusiasm out-do the B.M.A. 1942 model. It has proved that sustained enthusiasm and controlled speed are potent factors in overcoming the handicap of the shortness of this Course.

(d)     practice in making your decisions quickly without dithering, both during training hours and after. Don't worry when they prove silly but keep at it until you can make a sound decision on anything in three seconds.

(e)     take advantage of the field work and bits of mild battle inoculation here, not only to learn to do, but to plan quickly so you will be able to do it when real fear, fatigue and excitement will combine to freeze your mind. mental and physical stamina, the capacity to improvise with your team in a pinch—will be your salvation while shaking yourself out of the first tense stages of the battle.

6. As I passed these notes to the Adjutant to have them types, he said "They sound pretty gloomy." All right, then. For all of you, may 1943 be a year of Happy Humiliation of the Hun.

Brockville, 1 Jan., 1943

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 5 October 2013

HMCS Bonaventure
Topic: RCN

HMCS Bonaventure
Click for larger image. Image published in Jane's Fighting Ships 1967-68.

HMCS Bonaventure

Preceded by HMCS Warrior and HMCS Magnificent, HMCS Bonaventure was Canada's last and longest serving aircraft carrier.

A Majestic class carrier, The Bonnie served in the RCN 1957 to 1970. She was laid down 27 Nov 1943 for the Royal Navy as HMS Powerful, and launched for completion afloat on 27 Feb 1945. With the end of the War, but work on her was suspended in May 1946. Purchased by Canada and renamed HMCS Bonaventure, work resumed in July 1952 and she was completed 17 Jan 1957 and thereafter commissioned in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Initially carrying 34 aircraft in five squadrons:

The Banshees were retired I 1962 and a few years later new Sikorsy Sea King helicopters were added to the Bonaventure's complement. After the Bonnie's 1967 refit, the air component consisted of 21 aircraft.

HMCS Bonaventure was decommissioned by the Canadian Armed Forces on 3 July 1970 and broken up in Taiwan in 1971.

HMCS Bonaventure


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 4 October 2013

Reading Advice for a Newly Appointed Officer
Topic: Officers

On being asked by a young officer for reading recommendations, rather than simply compiling a list, I returned with the following advice.

Reading Advice for a Newly Appointed Officer

Good afternoon, and congratulations on your appointment,

In general, my advice for reading usually comes down to "read anything." The long-winded answer follows:

While the recent publications on Afghanistan may catch your eye, one thing to keep in mind is that the next war (when and if) will be different. What our troops did in Afghanistan was what worked there, our newest challenge will be to get a generation of soldiers to understand that it was only one solution.

Balance reading on unconventional warfare with some of the older Cold War stuff, like "First Clash." All arms combat against a balanced enemy is something we haven't focused on in some time, but still need to know. While "today's enemy" may be a Taliban fighter with an IED and an AK, "tomorrow's enemy" may be equipped with T-72s, rocket artillery and the threat of chemical weapons. Also look for works like "Empty Casing" for an understanding of the range of employment our soldiers can experience.

Read anything that interests you on leadership and command, decision making, and management. Pick and choose the elements that suit your style; it will also help you understand others' approaches. Find "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence" for a good read.

For history, I'd suggest starting with the history of your own regiment. Then explore the campaigns and battles the regiment celebrates. Becoming one of the local experts in regimental lore is never a bad thing and it can take years to absorb and place in context the minutiae.

Always keep in mind that what you need to pass your courses will be taught to you. It's easy to overwhelm yourself with detail that confuses the course learning environment, and you'll have time to layer on information you get afterwards to fill in what you feel are gaps.

I've always found that reading items of interest in science and technology is good to have for background knowledge. War may be an art, but we deal with a lot of science based realities. Physics, math, chemistry, the science of ballistics, anything you can think of has some applicability, and a little bit of knowledge is never a bad thing. Take care not to "lose" time going too deep into things where a basic level of knowledge will suffice. You can always revisit specific areas when your interest piques. Be a generalist until you find an area of focus.

Challenge yourself occasionally, Pick up a book that stretches your reading level by its scholarly presentation, or even just the density of material. read them in small chunks and push yourself to digest complex material. One of my first tastes of this was Norman Dupuy's "Numbers, Predictions and War," an excellent little work that forces you to look at the concept of combat power in measurable terms.

And when you're not reading something specific to your military interests, look for things that are completely outside the framework. Read the occasional layman's book on economics, science or culture. Broaden your horizons and you'll start to look at the military side of things from different angles as well.

I tend to have two or more books on the go at once. Some I read a few pages at a time and digest the material slowly. Others I take chapter by chapter, or more. But when my mind tires of one, there's always another one I can pick up if the mood strikes me, usually with the intent of returning to finish the first.

And don't ignore fiction. Fiction has the advantage of simplifying the scenario to just what the story needs. You can isolate and examine as you read and ask if you would have take the same decisions as the major characters.

I hope that offers a few lines of approach. The biggest thing to keep in mind is to not streamline your reading to such a tight focus that you can't see problems from other perspectives. (And there's a huge thread on the Army.ca forum about Reading Lists, etc., for specific recommendations.)

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 3 October 2013

"Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line"
Topic: Tradition

From "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line"

Pubished in the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951

By Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles)

Yet it is only human for one who is proud to belong to some perhaps ancient and honourable institution, be it a college, society, firm or regiment, to need some outlet for his pride: and this is often found to take the form of deprecatory references to a rival or neighbouring institution of the same sort. If it is admitted then that the British find pleasure, and perhaps even some moral profit, in their traditions, it seems likely that British soldiers too will tend to prize the military traditions they have inherited.

More particularly, the soldier's trade is a dangerous one, especially the infantry soldier's; any man who is to face danger and death must be in some way built up and fortified before he can be confident that he will not flinch from that stern assignment. Saints and martyrs have in themselves enough spiritual toughness and faith to be able to endure without human aid; but the ordinary man, it is suggested, needs to feel that he is one of a specially chosen and selected company, membership of which at once inspires him to the utmost of which he is capable and reassures him that his comrades too are of the same high quality. It may be further suggested that such a consciousness of belonging to a corps d'elite may be induced in four main ways:—

(i)     By selection. Thus the commando raider or the airborne soldier knows that he and his fellows have passed a rigorous physical test and have emerged successfully from a period of intense and exacting training and testing. He is confident that having endured so much nothing can defeat them.

(ii)     By obvious differentiation. This explains why the Royal Navy has no need to try and maintain "crew spirit (if that is the equivalent of regimental tradition): every rating knows that simply by being a seaman he is a different kind of person from a mere landsman, and, because he has mastered an element which the latter instinctively dreads, a superior one: and so are all "they that go down to the sea in ships" along with him.

(iii)     By technical attainment. here again the Royal Navy scores, and so do the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Royal Engineers to both of whom still accrues the prestige due to a "scientific corps": every gunner and sapper knows that he is a skilled man to whom, as to his companions, delicate instruments and weapons of precision are entrusted.

(iv)     By membership in an organization which has its own strongly marked and characteristic habits, standards, codes of behaviour, even a distinctive dress, in a word, its traditions, in which the individual can share and take pride.

It follows that while those in any of the first three classes often enjoy the advantages of the fourth as well (a member of the King's Troop, R.H.A., is an example of a soldier who can be included in all four) the infantry soldier must depend entirely upon the fourth, for it is all that he can hope for. Whatever laudatory things important people can find to say, especially in war-time, about the infantryman, it must be admitted that he is what is left over when all the experts, scientists, and intellectuals have been taken away, and, while everyone else who is employed in the fighting Services is some sort of specialist, the infantry soldier is a Jack of All Trades if there ever was one: though he has certainly shown a remarkable aptitude for mastering them successfully.

It is for this reason that the infantryman, and particularly the infantry officer, sets far greater store by tradition than do members of the other arms; it is a sound instinct which makes him insist upon the differences which distinguish his regiment from others, even if he seems thereby to attribute undue importance to minutae of dress, drill or deportment. Upon precisely such details is founded conviction of the foot soldier that he is indeed one of the Elect.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 2 October 2013

What Happens to Old Captains?
Topic: Humour

What Happens to Old Captains?

by Master Captain JP McManus, CD

From the CFB Gagetown "Junior Officers' Journal" July 1977

There comes a time in the life of many Captains when it suddenly occurs that their peers and, in fact, many who are far, far junior, have been promoted to the dizzy heights of Major. One or two of these promotions are understandable because there is always a small percentage of clever individuals whom everyone realizes will be promoted quickly. Allowances are also made for the politically sound individuals who have been promoted because of good postings. For example, being PA to a General Officer, doing a good job and having a PER signed by him is very helpful. However, when several of these promotions occur it suddenly strikes home that something is amiss. With this realization comes a self appraisal, usually with some astounding conclusions. First and most important is the realization that he/she is as highly skilled as the people who have been promoted. Usually though, there are one or more large holes in his career progression pattern; a vital course that was missed or an essential job that was never held. In addition, there is also the realization that his postings have not been too good. Four years as the Recce Platoon Commander in an Airborne Commando may have been fun, but it did not do much for a career. When he realizes that he is now doing the same job that he did in 1972, and also in 1968, the Captain realizes that something is wrong.

The annual visit by the Career Manager is another milestone, especially when he says that the Captain's Regiment can expect only two or three promotions to Major in the next year.

All of these things usually come together at about the time the Captain has seven years in rank. With the realization that promotion is a very dim prospect, the Captain tries to figure out why he has not been promoted.

Odds are that he is an old man; at least 30 years of age. His ailments and old injuries are starting to become more important because they affect his work. No longer can he recover quickly from the effects of Happy Hours, Mess Dinners and impromptu parties.

He already knows that he is highly skilled in his profession, but his skill was gained by practical experience not formal training. Me also realizes that his staff work leaves something to be desired, he is short on tact, long on support for his soldiers, frustrated in his present job and generally disillusioned with the Army. Also important is the fact that he is unilingual. He is also committed to his profession by a sense of duty, a need for security and inertia. Also by the hope that next year will be his year for promotion.

Time, however, has a habit of creeping up on him. Before he realizes it two or three years have passed with no promotion and only horizontal job expansion. There he sits; able to do any job in his unit to at least one higher rank level. He is, in fact, a resource that the CO draws on when he wants a particularly complex, or sticky job done without having to personally supervise every step of it. Often the Captain fills a Major's position, doing the job without benefit of the pay or privileges that go with it.

Such was the case in early 1977 in 2 PPCLI. The Battalion had four Majors (including the DCO) and 10 Captains. The time in rank of six of these Captains ranged from seven to nine years. These six elderlyCaptains shared a disdain for Majors and outright hostility to Lieutenants. They were also veterans of the days when the Subalterns' Protective Society flourished. In addition, because of their age, they were regarded with some awe by the other junior officers and were permitted some leeway that the others did not have. Ever mindful of this these six Captains began to search for a method of protecting their positions. Mutiny was out of the question, so a more subtle method had to be found.

From this search developed the Master Captains' Association, an organization dedicated to the overthrow of Field Officers. After much discussion and soul searching, a list of membership criteria was developed, the main points of which are:

a.     seniority in the rank of Captain equal to or superior to that of the junior member;

b.     possession of at least two medals, one of which must be a CD;

c.     a superior level of skill at one's profession;

d.     hatred of subalterns;

e.     disdain for Majors, particularly those younger than oneself; and

f.     an undying belief in promotion "next year".

Membership carries certain privileges and responsibilities. First, and most important, is the fact that as a Master Captain one is too junior for command and too senior for responsibility. Next is the God-given right to call all Majors by their first names. There is also the privilege (and requirement) to wear one combat pip sewn to the underside of the left lapel of one service dress, and, in other orders of dress, to carry a combat pip at all times. Failure to produce it on the demand of another Master Captain costs a drink. Any amendments to the association constitution requires 100% concurrence, therefore members must leave their proxy vote with another member if they are away from their units.

The greatest responsibility lies in promotion. If, through some ghastly error, a member is promoted, he must bear the cost of a formal mess dinner for all the other Master Captains on his Base.

There are plans for the future also. Membership cards are a definite item, as is a modification to the Mess Kit. The old one, of course. Since all of us were fitted for it many years ago, there are now problems in getting into one's waist coat. The association intends to solve this problem by replacing the waist coat with a good quality T shirt, in the approved Regimental colour, bearing the logo (with appropriate MOC):

The initial intention was to limit membership to Combat Arms Officers, but this has been amended to permit select Corps types to join. Only if it is to the association's advantage, however. To keep the record straight, and for the sake of posterity, the charter members of the Master Captain's Association are:

  • MCapt Doug Arril, PPCLI
  • MCapt Bob Beggs, PPCLI
  • MCapt Dave Brigden, PPCLI
  • MCapt Gerry Jensen, PPCLI
  • MCapt Pat McManus, PPCLI
  • MCapt Gord Shields, Chap (P) just for class
  • MCapt Woody Woodward, PPCLI

One other member has been added to this august group since its inception; MCapt Jim Van Dusen, Log; a fine old Mother Trucker. While at the Combat Training Centre recently I discovered that considerable interest in the association existed, with many officers wanting to join. Should this be the case with you, and you meet the criteria, please forward a written application outlining your reasons for wanting to join and a summary of your service to:

Chairman
Master Captain's Association
Kapyong Barracks
Letter Carrier Depot "M"
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3N 0V9

Attn: MCapt JP McManus CD

A warning about applications. If they are too good you will be turned down because you are Field Officer material. And, finally, a word of hope for non - CD holders. Your application will receive especially favourable consideration if you "Failed CD".

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 October 2013 12:23 AM EDT
Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Private Charles Daniel Smith, D.C.M.
Topic: CEF

Private Charles Daniel Smith, D.C.M.
1st Canadian Infantry Battalion

In 1914, Charles Daniel Smith was a 19 year old artisan from Listowel, Ontario. The son of Reverend Thomas J. Smith, the family is shown in the 1911 Canadian Census as living at the Saugeen First Nation, but by 1914, Smith records his father as next-of-kin living at Listowel, Ontario.

Smith was one of the thousands of young Canadians who traveled to Camp Valcartier at the outbreak of the First World War to be attested for overseas service as a soldier of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion. Smith is described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 8 inches in height with a 36 inch chest measurement. he had a fair complexion, grey eyes and black hair. he was pronounced fit to serve overseas and completed his attestation on 22 Sep 1914.

It is clear that Smith performed well as a soldier of the 1st Battalion. By the spring of 1916, he would be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). The DCM was awarded to soldiers for gallantry in actions and the only higher award for soldiers was the Victoria Cross.

The citation for Charles Smith's Distinguished Conduct Medal was published in the Supplement to the London Gazette, dated 11 March, 1916.

6856 Private C. D. Smith, 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion. - For conspicuous gallantry. After the capture of the enemy's trenches, and all the supply of bombs having become exhausted, Private Smith, on his own initiative, and after several attempts had failed, made five successive journeys through a fire-swept zone and back, bringing up fresh supplies of bombs, thus contributing by his bravery and determination to the successful maintenance of the position won.

He has also been previously awarded a Mention in Despatches, which was Gazetted in Issue No. LG 29422, dated 31 Dec 1915.

Following the end of the First World War and the disbanding of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, The 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion was perpetuated by The Canadian Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Perpetuation ensured that the honours, awards, and history of CEF units would be carried forth by existing units of the Canadian Army, and not put away to be forgotten as those CEF units were disbanded. The Canadian Fusiliers would be amalgamated with The Oxford Rifles and The Royal Canadian Regiment in the 1950s, with the perpetuation of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion (along with five other units) passing to The RCR to sustain.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 30 September 2013

Principles of War (A.T.M. Australia No. 21)
Topic: Military Theory

Canadian Army Training Memorandum No. 29, Aug 1943

Principles of War (A.T.M. Australia No. 21)

1.     Study of recent operations in all area in which our forces are fighting, continue to emphasize that the principles of war must be fully appreciated and clearly applied if successful results are to be achieved. The first requisite then is that the principles of war are known and understood.

2.     The following doggerel was recently issued in a training document by G.H.Q., MIDDLE EAST, and while its origin is obviously pre-war since references are made to horses, etc., its truth remains unaltered:—

Oh always Maintain your Object-ive
Offensive your action should be
Surprise 'gainst the foes is effective
and Concentrate on him, he'll flee.
Economise always your forces.
Security seek from alarms.
Make Mobile your columns — like horses
and Co-operate with All Arms.

Appreciations

When you make appreciation
Of a given situation,
Time and date and place are due,
and of whom the point of view.
First the Object you require.
SecondFactors and Deductions
Strength — localities — barbed wire—
Topographical obstructions—
Character — Morale and Training—
Methods of Communication—
Time of year and dry or raining—
Food and water — Transportation—
Factors too of time and space
Must not be without a place.
Third — the Courses for the foes—
FourthOur Own best line of action—
Last the Plan which seems to show
Greatest chance of satisfaction.
Plans must be concise and clear
so the Orders can appear.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 29 September 2013

Historic Names For Camp Gagetown
Topic: Tradition

The current sign at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, soon to be changed to the 5th Canadian Division Support Base.

Historic Names For Camp Gagetown

Canadian Army Journal, Vol 13, No 4, Oct 1959
From A Public Relations Report Issued At Camp Gagetown, N.B.

Areas occupied by the Army garrison at Camp Gagetown, N.B., are to be named after persons prominent in Canada's growth and military history, it has been announced by the Camp Commander, Colonel C.H. Cook, ED, of Ottawa. Names selected perpetuate battles in which Canadian soldiers distinguished themselves, they include also a deceased Victoria Cross winner of the First World War, a deceased Canadian general, an early Canadian fort and others of historical and regimental significance. The names will identify messes, quarters and other accommodation occupied by Camp Gagetown's four major elements, including field and permanently-established units. Signs are to be erected in the areas so designated.

Parade at Camp Gagetown (circa early 1960s). MIKAN 4234182: Copyright belongs to the Crown; Credit: Canada. DND/LAC.

Fort Carleton, built by the Hudson's Bay Company on the North Saskatchewan river, will be perpetuated in the name to be applied to the area occupied by Camp Headquarters and the static units. The area will be known as "Fort Carleton Barracks". Choice of Carleton was made because of a county in New Brunswick of that name, and because of the former Carleton and York Regiment, now perpetuated in the Royal New Brunswick Regiment.

The name of a St. Catharines, Ont., soldier who won the Victoria Cross in the First World War, will be given to a junior ranks club for personnel of Camp Headquarters and static units. He is the late Lance Corporal Frederick Fisher who won the VC in the [1915] Battle of Ypres while serving with the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion. The club will be known as "The Frederick Fisher Club".

The name of a former Honorary Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery will be bestowed on the area of the camp occupied by the 3rd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. He is the late Maj-Gen. H.O.N. Brownfield, of Brockville, Ont.

The junior ranks club of 3 RCHA will be called "The Grenade Club". because of the grenade insignia of the artillery and its association with the weapon.

Two battles of the First and Second World Wars will denote the barrack areas and junior ranks club of the 1st Regiment, 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's). The barrack areas will be known as "Cambrai Barracks", after the Battle of Cambrai in 1916 in which tanks were first used. The Hussars junior ranks club will be known as "The Coriano Club", commemorating the Battle of Coriano Ridge in Italy in 1944 in which the 8th New Brunswick Hussars (Princess Louise's) played a leading role.


Buildings at Camp Gagetown (circa early 1960s). MIKAN 4234336: Copyright belongs to the Crown; Credit: Canada. DND/LAC.

St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, lends his name to the barrack areas of the 2nd battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. The cross of St. Andrew is duplicated on many of the Black Watch insignia.

The unit's junior ranks club will take its name from the brilliant red plume worn by members of The Black Watch on their balmorals, the red hackle. The club will be designated as "The Red Hackle Club". The red hackle originated with The Imperial Black Watch in 1795. At that time the regiment was covering the retreat of a British force at Gildermalsen, Holland, who were falling back before the French. An artillery unit left its guns in the retreat and The Black Watch counter-attacked, recovered the guns and manhandled them back to safety. In commemoration of this event, the artillery unit lost its right to wear the red plume on their headdress in favor of The Black Watch. The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, this country's oldest highland regiment, gained the right to wear the red hackle in 1915 for their part in the Battle of St. Zubien's Wood> in France.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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